Suspect enters ‘Not guilty’ plea


    Staff Writer

    Mark Trail, a suspect in the May 2012 shooting of a horse and a September 2012 standoff with local law enforcement, entered “Not guilty” pleas in both cases Tuesday morning in front of District Court Judge Gregory Lyman.

    Both cases were then set for spring trials, starting on May 28 for the horse shooting case, and April 22 for the standoff case, according to Deputy District Attorney Alex Lowe.

    Trail was arrested on animal cruelty charges in May 2012, following the alleged shooting of his neighbor’s horse. The horse died later that afternoon.

    On the afternoon of May 19, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the 1200 block of Ute Drive in Aspen Springs on a report that a horse had been shot earlier that day, said ACSO Investigator Lando Garcia.

    Cpl. Jake Beach met with the owner of the horse, who reported that a neighbor had shot his horse at about 6:30 a.m. that morning, Garcia said.

    Garcia said the horse was outside of its fenced area at the time it was shot.

    The neighbor suspected in the incident, Trail, was then arrested on May 24, Garcia said. Arrest charges against Trail included theft of certain animals (because he allegedly killed the horse and therefore deprived the owner of his property), a class-four felony, and cruelty to animals, a class one misdemeanor.

    On his way to a court hearing for that case in September, Trail was pulled over on a traffic stop, which resulted in a 26-hour standoff with local law enforcement.

    Charges filed against Trail for the standoff include two counts of first-degree assault on a peace officer, two counts of felony menacing, four counts of violation of bond conditions (one count for each above charge), and driving with a revoked license (a misdemeanor).

    At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, Pagosa Springs Police Officer Tony Kop initiated the traffic stop on Hot Springs Boulevard between Apache Street and the post office following receipt of a tip that the driver was driving with a revoked license, said Det. Scott Maxwell with the Pagosa Springs Police Department.

    Maxwell indicated that Trail’s license had been revoked due to Trail’s status as a habitual traffic offender.

    When Kop approached the vehicle, the driver, later identified as Trail, brandished a weapon and began yelling at Kop, who then retreated to his vehicle and called for backup, Maxwell said.

    A perimeter was immediately set up, blocking off a portion of Hot Springs Boulevard and a number of other downtown streets.

    At about 9 a.m., Officer T.J. Fitzwater initiated negotiations with Trail, who Maxwell described as being apparently emotionally distraught, suicidal and armed with a handgun.

    Negotiation attempts continued throughout the day and night. As the incident progressed, barricades along Hot Springs Boulevard were moved to allow for increased business along the road, with the post office allowed to reopen at about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

    Late Wednesday morning, officers, after more than a day of fruitless negotiations and believing that Trail was intent on harming himself, decided to breach the vehicle and apprehend the suspect, Maxwell said.

    At approximately 11:10 a.m., bean bag rounds were fired at the vehicle’s windows, a Taser was deployed to subdue Trail, and he was removed from the vehicle

    The suspect and two officers received minor injuries from broken glass during the operation.

    Maxwell confirmed that Trail did not leave his car during the incident and no shots were fired until the use of beanbag rounds to break the van’s windows.

    Trail is being held in the Archuleta County Detention Center. He is represented by the Colorado Public Defender’s Office.